Jonathan Faia is a passionate writer whose work encompasses despair, angst, and even flirts with death while reflecting on the indulgences of love and the loneliness that accompanies its failures.
In his second collection of poetry, Faia explores all aspects of love while reminding others of the hope and resilience needed to navigate through complicated relationships and the pain of heartache. Shared in the spirit and rhythm of the Beat Generation, his poems delve into the emotions and failures that follow him as he examines his depths amid an internal struggle to balance his sanity with his conscience while battling the urges for sin and debauchery.
Figuratively illustrated by the long, lonely road from Los Angeles to Las Vegas, Love Letters from Barstow shares empowering poems reflecting love, heartbreak, and one man’s limitations.
Despite gaining fan base in the mid 2000’s both internationally and in the U.S. he still thinks of himself as a struggling writer. “I have to write constantly,” he says. “Otherwise, I worry I can’t keep up with my thoughts”. That impressive work ethic has led to two books, as well as countless articles and interviews across the web.
1) First, I want to thank you for taking the time to do this interview with me! When did you know that writing is what you were called to do? What is it about being a writer that you love the most? What about being a writer frustrates you the most?
Well, I began reading and writing from a very young age, but never thought it would go anywhere. I spent a lot of time in the public library, which really helped me both as a reader and a writer. I got to read works that other kids my age had never even heard of. Writing just made me feel good. It gave me a sense of feeling complete when I felt so empty in other situations. Writing allowed me to use the emotions I had built up inside of me that I didn’t quite understand.
I absolutely love when I hear someone say that they related to something I wrote.
When you feel like an outsider a lot of the time it’s comforting to know that there are people like you out there. When my writing creates a connection with someone there is almost no better feeling.
When I look back on my frustrations there are a few things that bother me, but I’d say what bothers me the most is the idea that you have to conform to a certain style to be successful or to make your work meaningful. Don’t create barriers for yourself. So often success is defined in terms of money, and don’t get me wrong you want to reach as many readers as possible, but if your writing fulfills you and accomplishes a dream then you can’t ask for anything else.
2) Can you tell us a little about your book(s) and where our readers can find out more about them and you?
Well, Love Letters From Barstow is my latest book and I’m very grateful to the folks at the publisher who believed in what I was trying to say. Love Letters From Barstow is a collection of poetry, with a constant reminder of the hope & resilience needed to navigate life’s trials of love, and the pain of heartache that is sometimes brought on by one’s mind. It’s in the spirit and rhythm of the Beat Generation, but I’d say this book has more of a Bukowski feel to it. I’d like to say it delves into the emotions and failures that follow a man. A book that serves as a poetic record of a man’s examination of his depths.
The book takes its name from the city of Barstow, California. The title was really a sustained metaphor or allegory of the internal struggle faced by those balancing a person’s sanity and conscience. One thing that is great that comes from all of this is the ability to connect with other writers and readers who appreciate the effort and strength it takes to put yourself out there. I’m active and love to connect on social media and we just launched a new website for the book where we will announce local book signings and we’ll be able to blog about the process along the way.
3) Where do you draw your inspiration from for the stories that you manage to weave together and the characters that you create?
Inspiration is a tough thing because when you have it sometimes you feel unstoppable when writing. Then there are days when you don’t have it and you know you have to find it somewhere. Inspiration hits me in different ways, but it always seems spontaneous. I find myself completely wrapped up sometimes almost franticly writing and, in those situations, I write on anything I can get my hands on. That is sometimes a receipt from a store or a napkin from lunch. There is no better inspiration than real experience though. The great writers wrote from what they saw and felt. I think that might be why I’m so drawn to the “Beats”. Everything put to paper was someone’s emotion or experience. Nothing had to be contrived.
4) Do you have a schedule for when you write? Do you outline your novels? How long does it generally take you to finish a novel? What projects are you currently working on?
I don’t necessarily have a schedule or an appointment time when writing. I will say with this book there were days I sat down and said, “I need to write today”. Sometimes I didn’t yield the best results, but I was able to pull lines out that made something else great along the way. A lot of what I do is feeling, I wish I was better with organization and was able to outline things a little more clearly, but it’s just not my strong suit. Somehow deep down I think I feel I need the chaos to write better. I’m currently working on the promotion for Love Letters From Barstow. I think as writers the content is so important to us that we forget about the marketing piece.
5) What’s the first book you ever read that really moved you emotionally? Who is your favorite author to read? What book are you currently reading?
The first book that really hit me was, “To Kill A Mockingbird” by Harper Lee. I remember reading it at a really young age, maybe in the third or fourth grade. Reading that book I just kept thinking how much I wished Atticus was my father. He was a strong man who cherished his children and always did what was right, regardless of public opinion. To me, Atticus Finch might be the greatest book character ever, but that is only my opinion. It is a book I made sure my kids read and understood so they could maybe relate to why I try to teach them the things I do. We read a lot in my house between my daughters and I, so books are constantly flying off the shelves. I’m currently rereading a book that was first introduced to me in my freshman year at college, Siddhartha by Hermann Hesse. When things get chaotic, I always reflect to that book. It just centers me.
6) What has been your most significant achievement as a writer thus far? Where do you see yourself within your career in the next five years?
It may sound strange, but one achievement really filled my heart. After my first book, Wylde Serenity came out, my hometown public library reached out to me and asked me to participate in a panel discussion with other authors. It doesn’t sound like much, but with that being the library I spent so my time in as a kid it really had an effect on me. It was a full-circle moment for me.
7) How have you dealt with rejection within your writing career? What is your advice for other writers to better be able to cope or navigate their way through the publishing process, be it traditional or self-publishing?
Everyone deals with rejection on some level. I’ve submitted to tons of poetry contests and not been selected. You must really decide if the dream means more to you than the temporary disappointment of a rejection.
The publishing process is tough, and it is filled with rejection. In the past everyone was fighting for the same shelf space, but with self-publishing and online booksellers the game has changed. Rejection does not have to be an option anymore. You can collect your thoughts and publish yourself now and still reach readers through E-books and places like Amazon.
8) Do you find it hard to juggle the creative side of being a writer against the business side of being a writer, in terms of marketing and promotion and things of that nature? How hard has it been (or easy) for you to build up your author platform?
Navigating the business side has been the hardest for me. You put your entire soul into content and don’t realize that the promotion or marketing side will be as difficult as it is. There are a lot of ways to get your work out there but it’s hard to draw eyes. Even with the backing of a publisher, there is still author responsibility on the marketing side and it’s important to do everything you can to get noticed. That means open mic nights, local book fairs, making yourself available and being grateful for every interview opportunity. Building a platform is tough because it’s hard to break through and get noticed. I think I’ve done a good job so far and it’s nice to have good word of mouth because of previous work.
9) So many writers say that they hate reading their own work. Do you ever enjoy reading your own work back to yourself after it’s out there for the rest of the world?
I read back my work repeatedly just to make sure it sounds right during the writing process. Once the book is complete that’s it for me, I don’t like to read the book back to myself. It just sounds weird to me in my own head. That might be why open mic nights are so tough for me, I’m just afraid to put myself out there like that.
10) Do you believe that there is ever a point in life where it’s too late for an aspiring writer to become successful in this industry? Do you feel a late start would hinder their chances?
I don’t think it’s ever too late for a writer. I didn’t publish my first book until I was 37. I would say that as long as you have words in your heart there is a chance for you.
11) I feel like writing is a remarkable tool to help people not only express themselves, but also to cope emotionally and mentally. I know for me I write to be and feel more authentic. What unique quality is there about you, about your art, that you feel represents your authenticity? How does writing help you to be more empowered in your purpose?
I feel like my mind doesn’t shut off, so writing allows me to get some of that out. I use my emotions to really enhance what I’m trying to say in my writing. I think that gives credibility to what I’m trying to say and for those fans that connect with it, they know they have someone who is like them out there. The fans I have know that if I write it then I feel it and I think that is what makes me authentic. Just being able to share with the audience my emotions through writing empowers me because it gives me someone to talk to even when I’m alone.